TITILAYO Aboyade Cole is a Nigerian, London-based TV presenter and publisher of Podium International and Social Diary magazines. In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly held on Thursday, July 26, 2012, at her residence in Ikeja, Lagos the 41 year-old successful entrepreneur told us how she mortgaged her England home to buy her first multi-million naira equipment, and why she’s bringing the popular London TV show to Nigeria…
Can you tell us what inspired the TV show?
I developed the interest in the UK six years ago and I thought it would be a nice idea because it will correct people’s impression about Nigeria. When the white people hear the world, ‘Nigeria’, what come to their mind are negative things but they fail to realize that every country has its own challenges. I got courage from my friend, who said, ‘Titi, you can do it!’ And today, I’m grateful to God.
How do you fund the show?
I started with Podium on TV in May 2006, but we went on air for the first time in November 2006 in the UK. It received a lot of accolades from fans and a lot of them welcomed the idea and that encouraged me because the show portrays Nigeria in good light. It showcases different parts of Nigeria like where they do their hair at Ikeja, Lagos under bridge. Basically, things that locale Nigerians take for granted, that’s what Nigerians in the diaspora will appreciate more. After the first edition, the demand was high, even in Nigeria. So, I said to myself I won’t be able to pay for airtime in Europe and Nigeria without sponsor. So, I decided to go into printing, not knowing that printing is costlier, but at that time, I couldn’t go back. That gave birth to Podium International magazine in 2008. It was well received outside except in Nigeria where we have been struggling to break even. So, we did the launching in 2010 where we recognized the people who made it possible for us to come here.
When did you start Social Diary?
The original Podium TV show had different segments including events segments, which we called Ceremonial. It became very popular, more popular than the regular interview and documentary segments. We started having a lot of people calling us for coverage of events. So, I decided to put a divorce between Podium TV show and Ceremonial. So, I created a different TV programme for Ceremonial in 2008 and that later metamorphosed into the publication called Social Diary. I didn’t even think it’s going to survive but to God be the glory, we’ve covered five countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Republic of Ireland and Nigeria.
With all these countries you have covered, you must be rich?
I wish I’m rich but you know that you hardly get your money back from the vendors. Thank God you’re also from a printing press and you know how it goes. From inception till date, I don’t think we’ve recorded N200,000 back from vendors and every edition costs like N4 million depending on the quality and copies. But I think the passion I have for publishing has helped me to be here today.
So, how have you been coping?
I will say through advertising and even that alone is not enough because the money we spend to send copies to those countries is more than the money we receive. But we do this because we want our advertisers to be represented across those countries. So, I’m spending my last dollar to make sure that it travels.
Now that you’re bringing Podium TV to Nigeria, what are the plans?
It has been a long time coming and I have been procrastinating for so long, ‘I want to come to Nigeria,’ but I couldn’t start because of the bill. I decided to start despite all odds because I see my ideas every day on TV. I finally bought the bullet and decided to pick MiTV for a start. With that, people still asked why MiTV? And I told them if I had started six years ago with MiTV, I would probably have advanced today. The programme started Saturday, July 28, 2012, at MiTV at 9.30 a.m and DSTV 136.
What will you say stands you out?
The answer is mixing a lot of things together. There are different segments that the general public, whether young or old, would benefit. It depends on your own interests. We are unique because we cater for your needs and I believe Nigerians would love it because it’s not about showing you places, we have different segments including Going Places, Genius Bar, Point Blank, where we discuss issues that affect the nation.
How do you intend to run the UK and Nigeria versions together?
It’s the same thing going on, all that will be costing me now is on DHL.
So, how has it been?
It has been quite interesting and challenging in some ways. To God be the glory because I really don’t know how it’s working for me but with God on my side, I’m trudging ahead.
Apart from finance, what are other challenges?
In Nigeria, I will say my gender is a major challenge because you’re a woman. We think we are civilized but we still have a long way to go. I have seen some publishers say where am I coming from? Forget the fact that I am a woman, I can do any business, so far it’s legal and it will bring me money. If I need to get anything, I won’t borrow instead I will work to get it myself. The first and the last time I borrowed equipment was in 2006, when I wanted to start. After that, I went back to England, re-mortgaged my house, took a loan and bought my equipment worth 40,000 pounds (N10 million).
Where will you like to see yourself in two years?
I pray to cover the whole of Nigeria because right now we are still only in the South West. For the TV series, I want it to be international in two years I want people to know Titilola Aboyade Cole –TAC, all over the world.
Tell us your background and family.
My name is Titilola Aboyade Cole. I am from the Aboyade family and my dad died when I was four and our widowed mother raised seven of us. I am the number six, I schooled in Lagos, Ilorin and I moved to England where I attended Institute of Legal Executive (ILEC). I started business 16 years ago and I got the drive from my mother. She’s my model. She didn’t remarry and trained seven children all alone. She’s still alive at 80 and still does business. I’m just 41.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, August 7, 2012